Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

Font Size: A A A

South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

Just for Fun

South Dakota Manufacturing Trends: Reflections from the Past

While researching manufacturing trends reported in old issues of the South Dakota Labor Bulletin and the annual summaries of data from today’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, we ran across several interesting references we thought others may enjoy as well. These references to manufacturing activity and trends made us reflect on how things have changed, and how the industry is influenced by social trends.

  • Sugar beet processing (1961-1962)
  • Numerous references to manufacturing employment related to producing instrumentation for the Minuteman Missiles and related defense contract work (1961-1963)
  • As an interesting sidebar, the Labor Bulletin was temporarily renamed as the “Manpower Bulletin” (December 1973 through November 1975)
  • Hope of an easing of a national recession and loosening of investment capital was expected to stimulate growth in the state’s manufacturing. “South Dakota has much to offer expanding industries … an abundant supply of electric power and an ample labor supply which is known to have favorable work habits and an ability to produce.” (1976)
  • Mass layoff in a large manufacturing firm in the state that manufactures crystals for CB radios; the move to more CB channels was expected to reduce the number of crystals needed in the radios. (1976)
  • Manufacturing growth was often attributed largely to increases in the fabricated metals and machinery area. Examples of products made ranged from computer components to microwave ovens to automotive parts. (late 1970s and early 1980s)
  • A rise in apparel manufacturing was noted as accounting for most of the growth in manufacturing (1981)
  • Labor disputes in food and kindred product manufacturing (1984-1985)
  • Food and kindred products manufacturing was very unsettled, with rising costs and aging equipment causing much uncertainty among employers in the sector. (1986)
  • Rapid expansion because of new and expanding manufacturers in the state, including those producing paper and allied products (including paperboard containers and boxes), apparel, Black Hills gold and silver jewelry, transportation equipment, electrical equipment and fabricated metals. (1986 to 1991)
  • Employment projections for 1980 to 1990 showed manufacturing with an anticipated growth rate of 29.2%, making it the most rapidly growing major industry in South Dakota. (1983)
  • The shift from a goods-producing to a service-producing economy is less pronounced in South Dakota than nationally because of the strength of the state’s manufacturing industry. (1988)
  • It was a year of expansion for electrical equipment manufacturing, including products such as transformers, electronic components and wiring equipment. Growth was also noted among manufacturers of meat products, grain mill products and bakery products. (1992)
  • The highly competitive personal computer business had significant employment growth as manufacturers expanded operations in South Dakota. Many workers in rubber and miscellaneous plastics products lost their jobs because of buy-outs and layoffs. (1993)
  • There was a shift in the type of South Dakota manufacturing activity from traditional manufacturing products (food and kindred products) to high-tech products such as computer manufacturing. Increased demand from consumers for personal computers and entertainment products (mid 1990s)
  • Declines in apparel and other finished fabric products manufacturing were due largely to declining sales. (1999)
  • Growth in food and kindred product manufacturing was attributed in part to increasing consumer demand for meat products for high protein, low-fat snacks. Manufacturers of industrial and commercial machinery and computer equipment were hard hit. Weak demand caused by market shifts, rising inventories, a slowdown in consumer spending and concerns about business profits caused several companies to trim their workforces to stay profitable. (2000)
  • Declining manufacturing worker levels were attributed to the exportation of jobs to countries such as China, India and Thailand where labor costs are lower. A continuing trend toward automated production systems was also credited for lower worker numbers. The slowdown of national economy and lower demand for products also played a role in the manufacturing downturn. (early 2000s)
  • Another sidebar: the South Dakota Labor Bulletin became an electronic publication in 2006; printing was discontinued as a cost-saving measure.

Back to article.